YOYO on the KP: Disaster Preparedness Underway at Civic Center


Carolyn Wiley, KP News

“You’re On Your Own,” unless you can get to a shelter.

There has been a lot of digging lately at the Key Peninsula Civic Center. The work is the result of the recognition that the civic center is the de facto emergency shelter for the community. James Allyn, the live-in caretaker responsible for the security and maintenance of the facility, said, “When there is an emergency, people show up.”

The civic center board realized that upgrades to the HVAC heating and cooling system and an alternate power source were needed if the facility was to function as a shelter.

Phase I of the upgrade plan required replacing the HVAC at a cost of over $100,000. Securing the funding took several years. Pierce County contributed approximately $60,000 to the project and the state provided another $50,000.

Phase II has a price tag of about $90,000. Two-thirds is provided through the state capital budget and one-third will come from the county. Most of the site work has been completed but stopped because both the state House and Senate approved funding is on hold until the capital budget is approved. (See related article “Hirst Decision” in this edition). The last step is the purchase and installation of the new generator.

Site work involved adding a power drop at the north end of the field that was routed through a trench to the transfer switch. The trenching provided an opportunity to replace outdated and failing pipes from the well to the building and adding a water line from the building to the field. Accommodations for future construction were added during this phase of the project.

Pen Light has provided a significant amount of in-kind help, as did Mark Knisely who donated many hours of excavating and back filling. Once the funds for the generator are released, installation can proceed since a minimum amount of rewiring in the building will be required.

When Phase II is completed, the civic center will be an approved warming/cooling shelter in case of a major disruption of power. Unfortunately, the civic center does not have adequate bathroom and shower facilities to be considered a full-service emergency shelter.

Peggy Gablehouse will soon be organizing and managing a volunteer resource center (VRC) at the civic center. This is where people who have tools and equipment that would be needed during an emergency can go to volunteer. Since the 911 and first responder agencies will be too busy to manage volunteers, the VRC will be in communication with those agencies to dispatch volunteers more appropriately.

One concern is that the general public is not adequately prepared to care for their families, pets and livestock. The Cascadia Rising Exercise in September 2016 provided a wealth of information that identified problems that could occur in the aftermath of a catastrophic event.

The Peninsula Emergency Preparedness Coalition has organized an emergency preparedness fair Saturday, Sept. 30, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Gig Harbor High School. Attendees will learn about the problems they will face if bridges are impassable and how those living in communities in the throes of disaster can better help themselves and their neighbors.

PEP-C also holds regular meetings on the second Wednesday of the month at 10 a.m. at Fire District 5 headquarters in Gig Harbor 10222 Bujacich Road NW.

For more information, go to www.PEP-C.org.